John Markoff

New York Times Senior Writer John Markoff.

I had a great chat recently with New York Times Senior Writer John Markoff about my experience representing cyclists injured while riding GPS-equipped bikes. On three separate occasions in the last two years, I have been able to use GPS data to enhance cases for injured cyclists.

In Markoff’s article, “Bike Crash Wiped Details; GPS Data Filled Them In,” he writes about a July cycling accident he had in California that left him with serious injuries but few memories of what happened.

He’s recovered, and thanks to his “black box” on his handlebars — a Garmin cyclometer — he was able to piece together a likely scenario of what caused him to crash. He could see that his speed decreased from 30 mph to 10 mph and then zero just seconds before the crash. Using GPS data and Google Maps, he was able to pinpoint the scene of the crash.

He returned to the scene and found a long, thin, deep pothole that likely knocked him from his bicycle.  I call these types of potholes “tire grabbers” because of the very nasty way in which they can literally grab your front wheel causing it to immediately stop and causing you to fly over the handlebars in a very dangerous way.

My comments appear midway through the story:

Lawyers who specialize in bicycle accidents say GPS data can be used by both sides.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” said James B. Reed of the Ziff Law Firm in Elmira, N.Y., who often represents cyclists involved in collisions with cars. He noted that GPS technology was altering the way both car and bicycle accident claims are settled.

“It’s important for people who are representing the injured people or the insurance companies to know how to obtain and analyze the data,” he said. “Frankly, it’s probably going to be a booming new industry for experts.”

GPS data provides a precise, objective measure of the cyclist’s speed at the exact time of impact, which is often very helpful in defusing the common “the bicyclist was going like a bat-out-of-hell” defense.

It sure is fun to have a motorist swear under oath that the cyclist was going “at least 30 mph” and then pull out the GPS data that proves the cyclist was only going 14 mph!

Although I hope and pray none of you in Elmira, Corning, Ithaca or across the Twin Tiers ever needs GPS data for this purpose … but if you ever have the misfortune to be in a bicycle accident … please be sure to preserve the GPS data and be sure to speak with an experienced bicycle accident attorney immediately.  Failure to properly preserve the GPS data or other important physical evidence could easily kill an otherwise good bike accident case.

Thanks for reading, Jim


James B. Reed
NY & PA Bicycle Accident Attorney
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)